Sunday, September 27, 2015

Pope Francis wrong about capitalism

This is Pope Francis's take on capitalism. The Statistics prove him wrong.
I explained a while back how I admire Pope Francis. I love how he stands true to the principles of the church despite adversity, and despite efforts to change it.  My beef with him is his criticism of capitalism, which he has called "the new colonialism" and "the dung of the devil."

He is more a man of the poor than a theologian as his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI.  While I assure you he knows a lot more about Biblical teachings than I do, he does not seem to understand the basic tenets taught by the Bible as to how to deal with poverty. The Pope said:
If politics must truly be at the service of the human person, it follows that it cannot be a slave to the economy and finance. Politics is, instead, an expression of our compelling need to live as one, in order to build as one the greatest common good: that of a community which sacrifices particular interests in order to share, in justice and peace, its goods, its interests, its social life.
You see, it sounds like he's preaching  fascism, socialism, or some a sister form of it that we call liberalism or progressivism.  He is preaching social justice, that we all come collectively together to make personal sacrifices to benefit the poor; that we create a large government that makes sure the wealth is spread; that we take from those who succeed (all the greedy people) and give it to those who are poor.

That, to me, is socialism. To this, Rush Limbaugh responded with a question:
Did Jesus tell people to give their money to the Romans so that the Romans could then distribute it?
Writing for National Review, "The Economic Fallacies of Progressive Christianity," David French took this a step further.  He wrote:While the words may be less fiery than those Francis has used in the past, their meaning is still clear: Politicians exist in part to mandate public economic sacrifice in the name of a nebulous “common good.” Yet one must take great care when making religious claims about political management of the economy, never forgetting that ideology can’t trump human nature and outcomes matter more than intentions. I can agree wholeheartedly with the Pope’s calls for an ethical capitalism in which great wealth carries with it great responsibility. I remain wary of the rhetoric of redistribution. One can scour the entire Bible without finding any example of progressive taxation or any endorsement of large-scale government redistribution of wealth. One can scour the entire Bible without finding any example of progressive taxation or any endorsement of large-scale government redistribution of wealth. Instead, the default position is that the individual owns his property and the worker deserves his wages. While charity is an unquestioned obligation, scripture also places responsibilities on the poor that would make any good progressive blanch.
He then proceeded to give a couple examples.
The Apostle Paul condemns idleness, saying, “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” In the book of First Timothy, he goes even farther: “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
The bible even conditions church aid to widows on their age and reputation for good conduct: Young widows are excluded for fear that they will grow “idle.” These words sound extraordinarily harsh to modern ears, yet they reflect divine insight into fallen human nature — rewarding idleness will breed more idleness.
Indeed, in the only government God did establish — ancient Israel — the “welfare” system stood in stark contrast to modern custom. Here’s how He commands the Israelites to use their possessions to care for the poor:  
"When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner."
 Not only is private property recognized (“your land”), but the welfare that does exist requires the poor to actually engage in the harvest to collect the gleanings. God commands nations to strengthen the hand of the poor, and outcomes matter. Recent history demonstrates that capitalism, not socialism, is the great engine that lifts people out of poverty. 
No form of government has been more charitable to the poor than capitalism. It creates an environment whereby anyone with an idea, and a will and some desire, can rise up from poverty to the middle class, and even to the upper class.  Capitalism offers equality of opportunity, not equality of results.

Even for those who have been unable to rise above poverty, poverty in the United States is not t
he same as poverty in third world nations. Capitalism has made it so even the poor have food and clothing, and they have television sets and radios and probably even quality beer if they so choose to choose that over more humbling purchases.

Likewise, as Jesus would have preached, Americans donate more to charitable causes around the world than any other nation. Writing for mashable.com, "10 Most Charitable Nations," Matt Petronzio said that 68% of the U.S. population donated to charity in 2014, 51% did volunteer work, and 49% helped a stranger. This is better than any other nation, and America is a capitalistic nation.

So it is capitalism that Jesus would have championed for, not socialism. While the pope is right to hold true to Chrisitan principles, he is wrong to criticize capitalism.  Capitalism has done more for the poor than any other form of government -- ever.

Sorry to criticize the pope, but he is wrong: capitalism does not disadvantage the poor: it makes life better for them.

Further reading: